06 February 2016

When "Can't" We Ride?

It's Saturday.  The snow that fell yesterday morning and turned to slush in the afternoon is mostly gone now.  It's a couple of degrees warmer than normal for this time of year, and the sun has just set.  

All in all, we had pretty good (especially for this time of year) riding conditions.  But I didn't get on my bike.  Why?  Well, I've felt tired and my nose has been dripping like a faucet that needs fixing.  And I have been nodding on and off throughout the day.

In my younger days, I might have tried to "pedal it away". That usually worked with a simple cold or other minor ailments.  I am convinced, to this day, that I once rode long and fast enough that a flu couldn't keep up.  Or, perhaps, it couldn't hold on.

Almost anyone I know who isn't a cyclist would say that I "can't" ride today.  Perhaps my cycling friends and acquaintances would say as much.  And there are times we ourselves say we can't ride.  Sometimes it's a matter of health; other times it's because of other commitments we have, such as jobs and families.  Or some friend or relative we haven't seen in ages has come to town.

There was a time in my life when I would have said that there never is a time or place when one can't ride.  I even told people as much when they said they couldn't get out after work, caring for kids or whatever.  Of course, in saying that, I felt superior to all of those people who weren't riding 50 to 100 kilometers every day and taking a 150 or 200 kilometer ride on the weekend.  Hey, I wanted to feel superior about something.

Of course, I have changed, at least somewhat--at least enough that I can reflect on those times and ask the sorts of questions whose answers can change the course of humanity.  (Please, please permit me one moment of grandiosity!)  To wit:  Are there actually times when, and places where, we can't ride?  Or is it that, at least in theory, that such times and places don't exist--and that we only allow ourselves to be fettered by weather, commitments and "no bike riding" signs?


  1. There is nothing more frustrating than riding to an event through six inches of fresh snow to find that it has been cancelled" due to the weather"! What weather?

  2. Coline--I've had similar experiences. Once, I showed up for a club ride that was cancelled because of the "likelihood" of rain. The day remained overcast and the rain held out until the late-night hours. And I went on a nice solo ride.

  3. Justine,

    I am not 100% sure as to precisely what you are getting at here. There are two senses of "can't" or "cannot". Is the question rather there are times we SHOULD not ride (an imperative), or that simply there are times we are not CAPABLE of riding?

    This could turn into a discussion of the morality of riding at certain times, of responsibilities.

    Currently I am incapable of riding a bike under the conditions here: nothing but water covered irregular surfaced ice and high winds.


  4. Leo--I think I was covering both senses of the word that you mention. Sometimes people (especially non-cyclists) conflate "should not" with "not capable of". And, really, the question to either: whether one is not able to, or simply should not, cycle varies by individual.